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The following problems are for practice only. To view the synopses of the official 2023 - 2024 Odyssey of the Mind problems, click here!

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Furs, Fins and Feathers


A number of creative works have featured animals as the central theme. For example, Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a story about life and death as experienced by a seagull. Although it is a simple story, it is a meaningful one. Many points in the story present various interpretations and, like many works of literature, these may be debated. Although this problem is not based on Jonathan Livingston Seagull, we suggest you read the story. Other examples of how an animal views its life include the book, Charlotte's Web, the movie, Bambi, and the musical, Cats, by Andrew Lloyd Weber.

  1. The Problem
    Your team's problem is to create and present a humorous performance depicting the life of an animal from the animal's perspective. The performance will include the animal and an interaction between it and one or more human beings. During the performance the animal will display four feelings or emo- tions from a given list. The creative emphases of the problem are on the humor of the performance, the appearance of the animal, the depiction of its life and its interaction with one or more human beings, and the animal's display of feelings.

    Thus, the Spirit of the Problem is for the team to create and present an original performance that depicts the life of an animal.

  2. Limitations
    1. The time limit for setup, Style, and the performance is 8 minutes.
    2. Materials used to solve the problem cannot exceed a $75 (U.S.) value.
    3. The performance must include:
      1. an animal as the main character. This will be scored in D. Scoring, 3, and in E. Style.
      2. an interaction between the animal and one or more human beings.
      3. the animal displaying four of the following traits in any order:
        (1) anger(5) fear(9) loyalty
        (2) bravery(6) greed(10) pride
        (3) confusion(7) hunger(11) problem-solving
        (4) curiosity(8) joy(12) shyness
    4. The featured animal:
      1. must be something from the animal kingdom, existing or extinct, such as a mammal, fish, reptile, insect, etc. However, it may not be a human being.
      2. must be depicted as an original (team-created) character; that is, it may not be a known char- acter such as Mickey Mouse, Garfield, OMER, Lassie, etc.
      3. may be oversized or undersized, but must retain its general characteristics.
      4. may display human traits such as walking on two feet, talking, etc.
      5. may be portrayed by any means such as a robot, prop, puppet, team member in costume, etc.
    5. The performance may include additional animals, characters and/or feelings or emotions.
    6. The performance may represent any length of time during the animal's life; e.g, minutes, years.

  3. Site and Setup
    1. A stage or floor area a minimum of 7' x 10' must be used, but a larger area is desirable.
    2. A three-prong electrical outlet will be available. Teams should supply their own extension cords.

  4. Scoring
    1. Creativity of the overall performance (originality, theme, effectiveness), 1 to 25 points
    2. Quality of the performance (audibility, movement, stage presence), 1 to 20 points
    3. Creativity of the main animal character (behavior, mannerisms), 1 to 25 points
    4. The depiction of any length of the animal's life (creativity, effectiveness), 1 to 25 points
    5. Interaction between the animal and a human being(s) (creativity, uniqueness), 1 or 20 points
    6. Feelings displayed by the animal:
      1. First feeling, 1 to 15 points
        (1) Displays first feeling, 0 or 5 points
        (2) Effectiveness, 1 to 10 points
      2. Second feeling, 1 to 15 points
        (1) Displays second feeling, 0 or 5 points
        (2) Effectiveness, 1 to 10 points
      3. Third feeling, 1 to 15 points
        (1) Displays third feeling, 0 or 5 points
        (2) Effectiveness, 1 to 10 points
      4. Fourth feeling, 1 to 15 points
        (1) Displays fourth feeling, 0 or 5 points
        (2) Effectiveness, 1 to 10 points
      5. Humor of the performance (subjective opinion of the judge), 1-25 points

    Maximum possible: 200 points


    1. Spirit of the Problem violation, -1 to -100 points
    2. Unsportsmanlike conduct (each offense), -5 to -100 points
    3. Outside assistance (each offense), -5 to -100 points
    4. Over cost limit, -5 to -100 points
    5. Overtime: -5 points for every 10 seconds or fraction thereof over time limit.

  5. Style
    1. Appearance of the main character, 1 to 10 points
    2. (Free choice of team), 1 to 10 points
    3. (Free choice of team), 1 to 10 points
    4. (Free choice of team), 1 to 10 points
    5. Overall effect, 1 to 10 points

    Maximum possible: 50 points